China promises economic growth of 5% by 2023


China pledged to expand its economy by “about 5 percent” this year, underscoring the challenges facing Chinese President Xi Jinping in his third term in office. .

China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, opened in Beijing on Sunday with a statement from outgoing Premier Li Keqiang that sought to instill confidence in the Chinese leadership.

Li praised Xi’s leadership, describing the “volatile international environment”, “uncertainties” and “hidden risks” his country faces as it recovers from years of isolation and crippled coronavirus operations.

“Struggle creates intelligence. “Hard work will win the future,” Li said in a wide-ranging speech that lasted less than an hour, pledging to expand the country’s capacity to counter external efforts to limit its growth.

This year’s Liangui, or two sessions – dual meetings of an advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress, which has about 3,000 members representing various sectors of society – comes at a time of deep uncertainty and change. For the country.

The National People’s Congress is expected to rubber stamp senior appointments and give Xi and the ruling Communist Party more control over decision-making previously entrusted to government bodies.

Chinese leader Xi makes ‘radical’ transition as he consolidates power

At a party conference in October, Xi defied succession rules to seek a third five-year term, paving the way for his decades-long stay in power. Late last year, the Xi-led Chinese leadership oversaw a chaotic reversal of its years-long “zero Covid” policy, as well as mass protests on a scale not seen since the 1989 pro-democracy movement that culminated in a bloody crackdown around Tiananmen Square. in Beijing.

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In February, a high-altitude Chinese balloon was discovered floating in the US, prompting Washington to cancel a planned visit by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Through export restrictions and embargoes, Washington has restricted China’s access to technology related to semiconductors and artificial intelligence.

Beijing also faces continued scrutiny over its friendship with Russia and its reluctance to condemn the Ukraine invasion.

Criticizing its foreign policy, Li said China would “resolutely pursue an independent foreign policy of peace”. Li said China had successfully countered “external efforts” to limit China’s growth and would focus on building “self-reliance” in science and technology in an effort to become a global technological power, without mentioning U.S. restrictions.

Li described familiar terrain in the mission statement, reiterating China’s claims on Taiwan’s self-governing democracy and the need to improve the military readiness of the People’s Liberation Army. The budget released on Sunday said defense spending would rise 7.2 percent to 1.56 trillion yuan ($230 billion), in line with increases over the past two years.

In two sessions, officials will announce the government’s biggest leadership reshuffle in a decade, including a new economic team to contend with a persistent asset crunch, rising unemployment, an aging population and declining consumer and investor confidence. China’s economy Only 3 percent grew Last year, it missed the 5.5 percent target.

Officials are expected to approve a “reform plan” of party and state institutions that would give the party more control in target-critical areas such as technology, financial regulation and national security, Xi’s main focus.

The new appointments include Li Keqiang, China’s new premier — an ally of Xi and a former Shanghai party secretary who oversaw a chaotic lockdown on the city that swayed national public opinion on a zero-Covid policy.

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In his speech on Sunday, outgoing Premier Li Keqiang, sidelined by Xi for most of his tenure, made no mention of the sudden abandonment of policy. Going forward, Li said the country’s coronavirus measures should be more “scientific” and “targeted”.

Parliament on Sunday proposed amendments to the legislative procedure during the state of emergency that would allow its decision-making standing committee to avoid multiple rounds of debate before enacting legislation. Almost certain to pass is the proposal, which would allow a small group of top lawmakers to pass controversial legislation with minimal oversight or public input.

The National People’s Congress will continue till March 13.

Vic Chiang and Christian Shepherd in Taipei, Taiwan contributed to this report.

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